Connie's Story

My Father Arthur

Arthur & Family

My father Arthur Nezis was diagnosed with incurable/inoperable pancreatic cancer on the 15th July, 2010.

He had been suffering with abdominal pain for a couple of months prior to diagnosis. As the pain persisted he asked for further tests to be done and patiently waited for his appointments whilst soldiering on with the pain at home. When the pain became intolerable I took him to the hospital. Initially they thought he had gall stones, however after having a CT scan and MRI they told us they had found a large mass in the pancreas. I still remember that moment clearly when the doctor told me he was ‘concerned’, it was a feeling of anxiety and sadness all rolled into to one that remained for the next 14 months!

I remember when the doctor told dad that he had ‘bad news’ and that it was pancreatic cancer. Dad had no reaction he just stared at him blankly. It was the most heartbreaking moment for me to watch my dad be told that his life would be cut short from this dreadful disease. In not so many words, dad was told he would be lucky to survive 12 months! He survived pancreatic cancer almost 15 months from diagnosis.

From the moment we found out my sisters and I went into autopilot and started researching and finding out everything about pancreatic cancer in order to support dad during this difficult time.

He was fortunate enough to go on a trial which would mean he would be on 2 types of chemotherapy drugs, one being the commonly used Gemcitabine and the trial drug Abraxane. Dad was keen to try anything as he wasn’t ready to give up. He was happy to suffer the side effects of chemotherapy if it meant he could spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

He responded to the chemotherapy and every six weeks his scan results would show the tumour in the pancreas reducing. We would become anxious leading up to the results and every time they would be positive we would all get excited. Ironically, although we knew that dad’s disease was terminal, it was a glimpse of hope and we held on to it as long as we could!

The chemotherapy treatment was tough on dad mentally and physically but dad’s will to live helped him get through the tough times. His determination to enjoy every moment he had with his family and friends made his last year very special. We have the most amazing and unforgettable memories such as his surprise 77th birthday, the countless times he went fishing with his son-in-laws and best mate, and the special moments he spent with mum, myself and my two sisters during his treatment. Although he suffered from tiredness, weakness and high temperatures on a weekly basis, never once did he regret having the treatment. Being with his family as long as he could far outweighed any pain and suffering he endured during this time.

Without a doubt the most difficult time for dad and the family was when he was told the chemotherapy had stopped working and the tumours had grown. That glimmer of hope we all had was gone! Dad tried radiotherapy for a couple of weeks but it was too late, the tumours in the liver had grown and dad was slowly deteriorating. He ended up back in hospital and apart from a Saturday afternoon visit home, he never went back home.

We were told he had weeks or days left depending on how quickly the liver would shut down. I think during this time we were all on autopilot and our priority was to be positive and strong for dad.

We didn’t realise or understand how traumatic or horrible it would be to watch our beloved father slowly and painfully die. The last 3 days remain engrained in our minds. Unfortunately, they are not days we want to remember however we are all happy that we never left dad’s side and were there with him until his last breath.

My dad died on Friday 30th September, 2011. Until I saw him take his last breath I did not understand how much pain I would go through. My heart is broken forever, however my dad’s will to live during the most difficult time of his life, is his legacy, which will live on in all of us.

My dad was and will always be my hero! He has been the key influence in my life, in the choices I have made and in who I am today. He gave me strength to believe in myself and he made me feel special every time he saw me. I miss him everyday and I cherish every memory I had with him. He was a gentleman who touched many lives. I am so proud of his fight against this horrible disease and his passion for life. It has given me the strength to go on, be happy and make the most of my life. I will also fight and support this foundation for the rest of my life and it will be my way of keeping my dad’s fighting spirit alive.